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There really is nowhere quite like Paris. New York may have the buzz and London may have the nightlife, but Paris has the romance, the architecture and the food.  The ‘City of Light’ has long been the preferred city break destination for doe-eyed couples who come for the unrivalled architecture, the quality of its restaurants and romantic night cruises down the River Seine.

 

But there is more to Paris than just the language of love. This place is also the capital of fashion, haute cuisine and is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. Paris is full of galleries dripping with artistic masterpieces and streets filled with some of the most iconic buildings in the world. Anyone fancy a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or a walk along the Champs Elysées with its endless array of designer stores?

 

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If you find yourself stuck inside with bored kids on a rainy day, then make a beeline for the Cité des Enfants, an interactive science museum especially for little ones. This magical place encourages kids to learn through a whole range of hands-on activities, from playing with balance to producing the energy to power a television (30 Avenue Corentin-Cariou, 75019, cite-sciences.fr).


Looking for a spooky activity for Halloween? Check out Le Manoir de Paris, a “haunted museum” that provides a fascinating insight into Paris's dark history via 13 chilling legends. The impressive decor, convincing costumes and talented actors will have you quaking in your boots (18 Rue de Paradis, 75010, lemanoirdeparis.com).


On 3-14 September, Paris will be swinging to the sound of the Jazz à la Villette festival. Highlights include film screenings for the little ones and a “1959 Jazz Marathon”, which sees contemporary musicians breathe new life into "Kind of Blue", "Time Out" and other classic jazz albums from that year. We can't think of a better way to combat those end-of-summer blues. jazzalavillette.com


From 23 July to 24 August, the Parc de la Villette will be transformed into a huge outdoor cinema for the Cinema en Plein Air festival. Films from directors such as Wes Anderson and Ken Loach have been selected with this year's theme of "adolescence" in mind. The show doesn't start until nightfall, when a huge inflatable screen pops up under the stars. Make a night of it by starting early with a picnic (211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019, villette.com).


Finding an exhibition that won't bore your kids to tears can be easier said than done, but Motion Factory at the Gaîté Lyrique should do the trick. It provides a fascinating insight into the creation process of animated cinema and workshops are available to keep the little ones amused. gaite-lyrique.net


After your visit to the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, get into the spirit of spring by taking a stroll around the pretty Jardin des Plantes (57 Rue Cuvier, 75005, jardindesplantes.net).

Sightseeing


Following years of closure for renovation, the Musée Picasso recently reopened its doors to the public. Housed in the historic Hôtel Salé, it's home to the world's largest collection of the artist's masterpieces, including his Bull's Head found-object piece. Don't miss Picasso's personal collection of works by other artists, including Rousseau and Matisse, for a fascinating insight into what made this genius tick (5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003, museepicassoparis.fr).


Now is your chance to catch the first major European retrospective dedicated to Jeff Koons, the controversial American artist who plays with the concepts of appropriation and popular culture. The exhibition includes some of his most iconic, unapologetically kitsch work, as well as unveiling brand-new pieces, and runs until 27 April (Pompidou Centre, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004, centrepompidou.fr).


The Niki de Saint Phalle retrospective at the Grand Palais, which runs until 2 February, is the first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the sculptor, painter, and film-maker in 20 years. An explosion of colour and texture, it's an engaging introduction to the artist's vibrant, politically and socially charged oeuvre (3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008, grandpalais.fr).


The Festival d'Automne à Paris, which runs until 31 December, is a contemporary arts festival which sees over 50 cultural events take place in some of Paris's most iconic buildings, from the Centre Pompidou to the Théâtre de la Ville. On the programme: quality art, theatre, music and dance courtesy of established and up-and-coming talents alike. festival-automne.com


From 14-16 November, Anvers aux Abbesses will see a whole host of art galleries, ateliers and boutiques in the 9th and 18th arrondissements open their doors to the general public. The result? You get to take a sneaky peak at the work of contemporary artists, all while exploring this pretty neighbourhood. Win win! anversauxabbesses.fr


For eight days, on 6-13 September, Paris will become the international hub of design for the fourth edition of Paris Design Week. It invites the public to discover the very latest in design by showcasing the work of up-and-coming international designers in prestigious spaces throughout the city. This year's theme of “partage” (sharing) couldn't be more appropriate. parisdesignweek.fr

Key Areas


If you're already thinking about your next holiday, then take a trip to the Salon Mondial du Tourisme, France's biggest travel fair, which takes place on 19-22 March. Whether you're dreaming of a weekend city break or escaping to a far-flung location, you'll find plenty of inspiration here (Porte de Versailles, 75015, salons-du-tourisme.com/Paris).


Budding horticulturists and flower fanatics alike will delight in visiting the recently renovated Grandes Serres (greenhouses) at the Jardin des Plantes, which reopened in 2012. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by exploring a diverse collection of vegetation from all over the world, from tropical rainforest ecosystems to succulents from the Sahara desert (entrances at 57 Rue Cuvier, 2 Rue Buffon, 36 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, Place Valhubert, 75005, jardindesplantes.net).


If you can't quite face braving the "grands magasins" during the winter sales, then head to Free‘P'Star, a veritable vintage-clothing treasure trove packed to the brim with one-off pieces at bargain prices (8 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004, freepstar.com).


If you're lucky enough to be spending Christmas in Paris, pick up some festive snacks at the mouth-watering Noël Gourmand food exhibition. On 19-22 December, France's best artisanal food and wine producers will gather in the impressive Palais Brongniart to showcase their products. savim.eu


Calling all wine connoisseurs and foodies: don't miss the Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre (8-12 October), where you'll find locally produced wine as well as some of France's finest artisanal charcuterie, cheese and oysters, all in an idyllic village-like setting. fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com


If you feel like strolling through Paris without meeting any traffic, head to the elevated Promenade Plantée. The former Paris-Vincennes railway line has been transformed into a lovely walkway, surrounded by pretty greenery and plants and ending at the Bois de Vincennes. promenade-plantee.org

Day Trips


Fancy experiencing Mozart or Brahms being performed in the Basilique de Saint-Denis? Check out the Festival de Saint-Denis, a classical and world-music festival that takes place every year in Saint-Denis, a suburb just outside of Paris. festival-saint-denis.com

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*Prices shown are per person based on two people flying on the same booking. Fees & charges may apply. Min 4 seats available per flight, one way inc. taxes.